Prevalence and pattern of self-medication in elderly individuals

Zankhana Parmar, Supriya D. Malhotra, Varsha J. Patel


Background: Self-medication that is taking medicines without prescription by the doctor is highly prevalence in the community. Elderly population is more likely to self-medicate due to multiple morbidities. This study was undertaken to evaluate the prevalence and pattern of use of self-medication among elderly individuals.

Methods: Study was carried out at tertiary care hospital. The questionnaire which was used in our earlier studies regarding self-medication was utilized. After obtaining consent, the elderly individuals (≥60 years) reporting for health check-up were requested to fill up the questionnaire themselves or were asked to respond to questions verbally in the case of illiterate. Questionnaire mainly contained demographic and clinical data and self-medication details - frequency, symptoms/disease for self-medication, drugs, reasons for self-medication, sources of information, awareness regarding the risk of self-medication.

Results: Out of 200 elderly included in the study, 177(88.5%) reported self-medication in 6-month recall period. About 60% were male and mean age - 69.64±6.21 (60-85) years. About 21% reported frequent self-medication. Abdominal pain (16%) and headache (14%) were the most common symptoms, and diabetes (7%) was the most common disease for self-medication. Allopathic medicines (55%) mainly paracetamol (13.5%) were most frequently used followed by home remedies (23%) and ayurvedic (17%). Previous experience with the drug (50%) followed by advertisements (23.2%) were common source of information. Most common reasons for self-medication were convenience (69.5%) and cost (56%). None of respondents were aware of risks of self-medication

Conclusion: Self-medication is highly prevalent in elderly people who are unaware of risks involved.


Cross-sectional study, Drug utilization, Elderly, Self-medication, Self care

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